The three guys in the photo above — manager Eric Wedge, GM Jack Zduriencik and special assistant Ted Simmons — have some big decisions to make in coming days, starting with Franklin Gutierrez and his likely DL assignment. Given the outfield uncertainty, it should come as no surprise that one outfielder who didn’t make the team, Gabe Gross , has requested and been granted his release. Gross was a non-roster invite this spring and had a deal in-place where he could become a free agent if he didn’t make the club.
The M’s sent Gross to minor league camp earlier this week, so he took advantage of his “out” clause.
And who could blame him? The writing was on the wall when the Mariners, knowing that Gutierrez might have to go on the DL, still sent Gross down. You have to be pretty far down the outfield depth chart for that to happen.
Gross didn’t show much this spring and now, you almost have to wonder whether he’ll retire soon. The former Auburn quarterback and first-round draft pick from 2001 has a young family, has already played in a World Series and will be hard-pressed to stick with any major league club this late in spring.
But the fact that he requested his release could mean he’s already got an opportunity lined up. It could just be another minor league gig where he’s got a better position on the depth chart with a chance at the majors later this year. Who knows? But it wasn’t going to be in Seattle.
For those wondering, this is one reason why the Mariners were not going to keep Dustin Ackley over Adam Kennedy unless the latter completely fell off his game.
Kennedy, like Gross, is a non-roster guy with an “out” clause and — given what he’s shown this spring — would have certainly used it to go elsewhere had the M’s tried to keep him in Class AAA and bring Ackley up instead.
Not going to happen. Kennedy has made the team and would have made other teams this spring.
The same goes for Nate Robertson, who had the same type of escape-clause deal. Had Robertson shown anything in camp, rather than hurting his elbow and needing surgery, the M’s would have felt pressured to keep him over someone like, say, Michael Pineda, because the alternative would have been to almost certainly lose him to free agency.
In the end, because Robertson got hurt, the M’s got to have their cake and chow down on it too because they now get to keep both and see whether the lefty can rehab his way back into consideration come June.